Happy Father’s Day to all of our padres. I’ve often wondered if they invented Father’s Day just because they already had a Mother’s Day and didn’t want us to feel bad. It’s not easy to be a father! After all, mothers, whom we love with all our hearts, get a pretty clear job description: have babies, feed them, change their diapers. But fathers… we can’t have babies, we don’t have the right equipment to feed them, and we aren’t very good at changing diapers. So how does a father be a father?
Well, we begin by changing diapers, even if we are not very good at it. We hold our wives’ hands as they give birth to our children, and we make them comfortable while they are nursing our sons and daughters. In other words: support. We provide support for mothers and children behind the scenes; we appear when needed to defend their honor and safety. Fatherless America is probably our greatest social problem, but the solution is as close as the nearest Bible.
The Bible shows us St. Joseph, the great father of the Church and our particular patron at St. Joseph’s Parish. He quietly provided for Mary and Jesus, even though he was neither a biological father nor a carnal spouse. He took responsibility for his wife and child. He instantly and unquestioningly obeyed God rather than insisting on his own plans. (“Take the child and his mother to Egypt….Joseph arose immediately and took the child and his mother to Egypt.”)
Planting and Growing Seeds
Today’s Scriptures speak to us of planting seeds. From Ezekiel: “I plant a tender shoot on a high and lofty mountain; It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.” Every man’s dream—to grow sons as tall and straight as majestic cedars. From the Gospel: a man scatters seed into the ground, and “the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain.” Every man’s dream—to bring home an abundant harvest. Again from the Gospel: “a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, once sown, puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky dwell in its shade." Every man’s dream—to build a spacious home, in whose branches many children find shelter.
Brothers: it is one thing to plant the seed, and quite another to cultivate it. God gives us the seed, but he also gives us the strength to cultivate our little plants. Fatherhood is a lifelong vocation from God. He gives the increase, but he enlists our manly strength and joy to rear the children. Brothers: the single best thing you can do for your children is to bring them to Mass every Sunday, with their mother.
In the current movie, For Greater Glory, Andy Garcia plays the Mexican general Enrique Gorostieta. He is married to the beautiful and devoutly Catholic Tulita, but Gorostieta himself is an atheist. He decides to command the Cristero soldiers, not because he believes in God, but because he loves his wife and children. He is shot down by government forces nineteen days before the end of the war, dying for his wife, his children, and his country. An exciting footnote: Paula Moreno, from the movie production team, will be speaking this Saturday at our parish.
Pray for your Father
I pray for my father every day. He is an enigma to me. He interprets my own manhood. I am becoming more like my father every year. God has entrusted his own fatherhood to our earthly fathers, beginning with St. Joseph. May God grant our fathers wisdom and strength. May we honor them, in gratitude to God.